Delta Air Lines - Incidents and Accidents - Hijackings

Hijackings

There have been over a dozen attempted hijackings which resulted in no injuries and the surrender of the often lone hijacker. These incidents are not included. The following are notable hijackings because of fatalities or success in forcing the aircraft to fly to another country:

  • In 1968, a Delta DC-8 was hijacked to Havana, Cuba. This was the first successful hijacking to Cuba from the U.S. since 1961, and was the start of multiple hijacking attempts to Cuba in the late 1960s. This coincided with the introduction of passenger screening using metal detectors in U.S. airports starting in the late 1960s.
  • Additional hijackings which resulted in no injuries and the flight landing in Cuba include March 28, 1984 (Delta 357 New Orleans-Dallas 727), August 18, 1983 (Delta 784 Miami-Tampa 727), July 17, 1983 (Delta 722 Miami-Tampa 727), June 11, 1979 (Delta 1061 New York LaGuardia-Fort Lauderdale L1011)
  • July 31, 1972, a Delta Flight 841, a Detroit to Miami DC-8 flight, was hijacked to Algiers, Algeria by 8 hijackers. The aircraft stopped in Boston to pick up an international navigator, who was wearing only swimming trunks and a shirt. The flight was allowed to return with passengers to the U.S., stopping in Barcelona for refueling.
  • On February 22, 1974, Samuel Byck, an unemployed tire salesman from Pennsylvania, stormed aboard Delta Air Lines Flight 523, DC-9 flight at Baltimore Friendship Airport (now Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport) scheduled to fly to Atlanta and shot both pilots, killing the First Officer, Fred Jones. He intended to crash the plane into the White House. After shooting the pilots, the hijacker grabbed a passenger and demanded that she fly the aircraft.
  • On August 23, 1980, a Delta Air Lines L-1011 on a San Juan to Los Angeles flight was hijacked to Cuba. The hijacker was jailed by Cuban authorities, and all passengers were released unharmed.
  • On September 13, 1980, a Delta Air Lines New Orleans to Atlanta flight was taken over by two hijackers and forced to fly to Cuba. The flight continued to Atlanta after stopping in Havana. The hijackers were imprisoned by Cuban authorities. One hijacker was released and later sought US residency. The suspect was later arrested by US authorities in 2002 and sentenced to prison the following year.

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